Legislature overrides governor’s executive order restructuring the DEQ

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved a legislative effort that disapproves Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order restructuring the state’s department of environmental quality.

The order, which was issued earlier this month, would have transformed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) into the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, while also nullifying laws approved by the Legislature last term.

“The Legislature has a constitutional duty to review executive orders,” said Sen. Kevin Daley, R-Lum. “The governor has the ultimate authority to restructure state departments as she wishes, though in this case, she went too far when dissolving the oversight boards created by legislation last year.”

The executive order abolished oversight panels within the DEQ that gave Michiganders the ability to directly interact with the department on permitting on regulatory issues. These boards were created under Public Acts 267, 268 and 269, which were signed into law in June of 2018.

House Concurrent Resolution 1, which Daley supported, disapproves the governor’s executive order pursuant to the Legislature’s constitutional authority and protects the previous public acts.

Daley noted that the governor’s concerns are valid, though her action was a step in the wrong direction.

“I think we can all support the governor’s call for all Michiganders to have clean drinking water, and to protect the environment and the Great Lakes,” Daley said. “But a sweeping order that reduces residents’ ability to interact with the department and reduces transparency and accountability is not the answer.

“Today’s action is a start to a larger conversation. As vice chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, I am committed to working with members of the committee, the department director and the governor to continue this conversation.”

###